If I had actually succeeded in publishing the first novel I ever wrote ( at age eleven, many, many years ago! ), boy, would I be embarrassed now! At that tender age I had very little idea of how to structure a sentence, let alone a paragraph, or how to punctuate, use correct grammar and spelling. I had no idea of how to avoid cliches or come up with an original idea!

But I learned a lot from writing that early novel: how to develop a sympathetic character and a cohesive plot, how to divide a novel into chapters that made sense—unlike several books that I’ve read recently. Like any endeavor, practice in writing is necessary to improve.

What worries me is that nowadays so many young and inexperienced writers have actually managed to self-publish. That work is probably going to embarrass them royally sometime in the future. I know it feels great to complete your first novel; it feels even more wonderful to get it published. But believe me, it is not going to feel wonderful if readers ridicule all your hard work. It will be heart-breaking!

Though I never published at a young age— far from it!— I did receive some pretty harsh criticism from friends who read my early work, even some laughter. It was devastating. Their reactions discouraged me from writing fiction for quite some time.

The last thing I want to see is a promising young writer discouraged. So as excited as you are about your current project, please refrain from rushing to publish it. Let your writing have a chance to fully mature first. Look upon it as practice for your eventual best-sellers.

You may grumble a bit about this advice right now, but in future I think you’ll thank me.

Best wishes in all your writing endeavors!